A 14-year-old teenage boy was choked, slammed to the ground and arrested by Miami police officers who claim the teen stared at them in a “dehumanizing” way.
Tremaine McMillian, an African-American teenage boy from southern Florida, spent Memorial Day on the beach with his family. While he was ‘rough-housing’ with another teen on Haulover Beach, police drove by on an ATV and told him that his behavior was unacceptable. They asked the boy where his parents where, and McMillian walked away.
The Miami-Dade police officers subsequently jumped off their ATVs to restrain the teen, claiming he gave them “dehumanizing stares” and “appeared threatening.” Maurissa Holmes, the mother of the boy, captured the incident on her cell phone. Video footage shows one police officer choking the 14-year-old boy while the other officer is restraining him.
“He started choking me, and as he was choking me, I urinated on myself because I couldn’t breathe,” McMillian told WSVN-TV after the incident. The boy’s mother was close by and ran over to the officers, telling them to get off. They told her to stand back.
“I ran over with my son and used my cell phone when I saw my son and he couldn’t breathe,” she told CBS4. “There was no reason to slam him on the ground like that the way they did. He’s a child, not an adult. For them to jump off their ATV and do this, this is wrong. I want justice. You don’t do that to a child.”
After the incident, the police said McMilliam clenched his fists, which made him appear threatening. But the boy says he was carrying and taking care of his Pit Bull puppy and giving the dog milk from a bottle right before the police attacked him, making it impossible for his fists to be clenched.
“That police report was not accurate,” the boy’s mother told CBS4. McMillian said the report also failed to mention the presence of his dog, which was also hurt by the officers.
“I feel sad. [The officer] got in front of me… and he slammed my hand,” the teen said, describing the incident. “Then he started choking me. Then my 6-week old Pit Bull mix named Polo got hurt and bruised his front paw when the police grabbed me and slammed me down. It makes me feel sad.”
Kearra McMillian, the victim’s sister, feels equally saddened by the event, and believes the officers responded out of rage that they were being ignored.
“My brother did nothing wrong,” she said. “He didn’t say anything to the officer. He just kept walking. I guess they just got mad because he wouldn’t stop.”
Miami-Dade Police Detective Alvaro Zabaleta defended the actions of the officers, claiming they did the right thing in restraining someone who appeared hostile, and that they had no choice but to take the boy into custody after he resisted their orders. He claims that flailing arms and clenched fists are considered a threat, and that the reports of the puppy’s presence are insignificant. McMillian has been charged with resisting arrest with violence, which is a felony, and disorderly conduct.
An assistant public defender at the Juvenile Justice Center has entered a plea of not guilty on behalf of the 14-year-old. Judge Maria DeJesus Santoveria has ordered a trial for the boy, which has been scheduled to begin July 16.